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European Countries Advise Adoption of Stricter Measures at Beirut Airport

European Countries Advise Adoption of Stricter Measures at Beirut Airport

Monday, 12 March, 2018 - 09:15
A general view shows Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport, Lebanon. (Reuters)
Beirut - Youssef Diab
Amid plans to expand and develop Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport, European countries have advised the Lebanese government to take stricter security measures at the facility.

The issue was brought up during talks British Home Secretary Amber Rudd held with Lebanese Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq in Beirut in February, revealed sources monitoring the airport file.

They told Asharq Al-Awsat that after the bombing of the Russian passenger plane after its departure from Egypt’s Sharm al-Sheikh in 2015, Middle Eastern airports have come under western scrutiny, especially from France and the UK.

The two countries had dispatched several technical and security teams to assess Beirut airport and they have issued reports on their findings, added the sources.

The Lebanese Interior Ministry has read the reports and taken immediate measures to improve security at the airport based on their recommendations, they continued.

These recommendations include reconsidering the construction of a wall around the airport, updating surveillance cameras in the area and training Internal Security Forces members working there.

Beirut airport is expected to witness in the coming years a development and expansion project based on international standards that would allow it to take in a greater number of travelers.

Travelers are soon expected to witness changes at the airport in regards to services offered and security measures inside and outside the facility.

They include adopting new measures that would facilitate and speed up traveler processing times, while abandoning the current complicated search and inspection procedures, revealed Transportation and Public Works Minister Youssef Finainos last week. He did not disclose details of these changes.

Chaired by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a ministerial and technical committee tasked with studying the development of the airport has been holding successive meetings at the government building.

Another committee, headed by Finianos, is tasked with handling the financing of the development and expansion project.

The cabinet has already approved $88 million for the project. A preliminary payment of $18 million has been referred from the government to the Development and Construction Council to increase the capacity of travelers from 6 million to around 10 million.

A member of the committee tackling the airport plans told Asharq Al-Awsat that the project is the cabinet’s “top priority at the moment.”

“It is the primary facility that should be developed through a quick and properly assessed plan,” he added.

He refused to disclose the details of the protection and expansion measures taken by Lebanese and foreign engineers and experts at the airport, sufficing by saying that the standards will be on par with those at the world’s most important airports.

He did reveal however that new passenger and luggage inspection equipment and sensors will be introduced to replace the current ones, which can be described as “primitive” when compared to the world’s top airports.

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